Old Habit | Ithaca Beer Company

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Old HabitOld Habit
Very Good
164 Ratings
Old HabitOld Habit

Brewed by:
Ithaca Beer Company
New York, United States

Style: Rye Beer

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 9.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
A Robust American Ale brewed with four different Rye Malts, fresh Centennial and Crystal Hops and our proprietary Ale Yeast. It is partly fermented in Tennesee Rye Whiskey Barrels, then carefully blended. Enjoy the gorgeous ruby color, strong aromas of vanilla and black cherry, earthy flavors of nuts and oak and the warm spicy finish.

Added by zdk9 on 06-06-2007

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 164 |  Reviews: 117
Reviews by badbeer:
Photo of badbeer
3.58/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Amber red color with a beige head leaving some lacing. Smell of floral hops, cherries, vanilla, and maybe some rye, though I don't know if that's just because I know they used rye. In the taste I get cherries, caramel, floral hops, toffe, and oak. Body is somewhat light and has light carbonation. A decent beer. Thanks to iowaherkeye for sharing.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of oberon
4.3/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

A beer I have been looking forward to trying since it came out,poured into an impy pint glass a deep mahogany brown with a slight chill haze to it a pillowy one finger almond colored head atop with good retention.Complexity the word to describe not only the nose but flavors of this beer,at first I picked up juicy fruity malt aromas like orange with brown sugar sweetness the hops are subdued but do provide some floral character.I would say malt tilted but hops are there on the palate the whiskey barrel aging shows itself with some real vanilla/oak sweetness along with a chocolate covered nut quality the rye is actually somewhat irrelevent just a very slight lactic-like bite.The complexity of this beer gives high marks sure Iam a hophead and was expecting maybe more of a hop profile but its a damn good beer,the creamy mouthfeel is to die for.A "nice" beer here it is well crafted.

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Photo of Mora2000
3.28/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Exiled for sharing this bottle.

The beer pours a reddish-amber color with a white head. The aroma is tart dark fruit and roasted malt. The beer is definitely infected, but it doesn't smell too bad. The flavor is rye and tart cherries and other dark fruit. I also get some roasted malt. The beer is fairly dry and is nice and drinkable, even if it is not as the brewer intended. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation.

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Photo of mjtiernan
3/5  rDev -23.3%

Photo of WVbeergeek
4/5  rDev +2.3%

Photo of IntriqKen
3.96/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I definitely was looking forward to this one...loving a good rye beer the way I do....this is unusual getting most of it's qualities from a barleywine rather than a simple rye.

Poured a barleywine translucent amber but with a bit more red. A nice off white half finger tops the glass and melts at a moderate pace leaving a sticky map while it lasts.

Aromas are barleywine strong in sweet candied amber malts.

Flavor is barleywine-like with the sweet candied amber malt but lacking the hop backbone found in barleywines. Rather there is a very distinctive spicy, dry rye backbone giving it a totally different flavor and style profile. A dry, graininess comes through in the flavor. Sweet and smooth start finishes to a drying spiciness. Distictive and nice.

Aftertaste is dry and slightly bitter. Warming alcohol.

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Photo of akukucka
4/5  rDev +2.3%

Photo of asabreed
4.55/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

25.6 oz. bottle into a Brooklyn tulip. Had to pick up another bottle from the series, and will continue to do so when I can and they're available.

Appearance: What I love about this is that every time you pour it it's like the first time, which, maybe oddly enough, doesn't happen as often with beers. And even after the initial pour, there's head and lacing around the neck of the bottle. But nothing's out of control -- it's just Belgian-like, through and through, which was unexpected. And the color's somewhere between an RIS and an amber, with a ton of gorgeously deep red and blacks going on, nearly opaque.

Smell: The complexity to this sucker is out of control. Big lambic woody sourness at first, along with the spiciness from the rye, the pungency of the hop tandem, charred notes of wood from the malt, along with some caramel, vanilla, and roasted chocolate, and some vanilla caramel booziness from the whiskey. And when it warms the whiskey notes mix with the tart and hugely pungent cherry aromas, along with other tropical and blisteringly ripe fruit that mixes well with the spicy rye notes. Always-changing and morphing and bringing weird notes as the temperature changes. There's TLC going on. Big time.

Taste: First, as it warms, you have the woodiness, the charred malts, the caramel nature, the sourness, a bit of anise, some charcoal. But there's a huge amount of spice, rye, and sharply effulgent estery sweetness in the way of tart cherries and candied caramel granny smith apple that do some great things too. Long lingering finish where the chocolate, caramel, and barrel notes come in, along with the booziness and sharpness of the whiskey notes, that seem to play with the rye spiciness and pungent hop character extremely well. Is this a Rye Beer? Barley Wine? Imperial Amber? What the hell is this thing? It's heady, wonderful, and encapsulating is what it is.

Mouthfeel: If this were up to the 11% or 12% range, maybe this could be cloying, but that's the other thing they get right here: they don't overdo it in the least. Like a slow-motion balloon popping in your mouth that expels slow clouds into every cavity. Just awesome.

Drinkability: A wonderful beer all around, and though I had Brute at the brewery almost a month ago, and have yet to open the bottle I'm hoping to save, I'm not sure it can beat Old Habit once I sit down to actually try it from the bottle. This is one of those "Whoa" brews for me, where the complexity, the drinkability, and the experience just click, left and right and up and down and everywhere. I haven't had an experience like this with a beer since Cuvee de Tomme, which makes me realize that Ithaca needs to 1) Keep doing what they're doing, 2) Get their beers to keep moving across the country, and 3) Keep making beers in this series. It's been about three hours now since I've been sipping on this, and I have a hard time believing that this isn't worth more than what I paid for it, which I believe was somewhere in the 11$-$13 range. This is how you experiment, folks. And this is how you get it right. Can't wait to try more, and more, and more, from the series.

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Photo of AKBelgianBeast
4.33/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Thanks to the one and only Ithaca Brute, Lum for this bottle of nectar.

Pours a clear and deep dark ruby brown color with a nice off white manillaish head that retains very nicely and leaves good lacing.

Nose is rye-errific with big malt sweetness, big whiskey notes, and some oaky vanillaness. An ever so slight smokey peat note.

Goddamn! This beer is VERY nice. Huge malt sugars and vanilla oak flavors right off the bat. Rye abounds. After quaffing the nose, I thought the whiskey was going to be too strong here, but it is dead on! Great whiskey notes without being a booze bomb. There is big Vanilla creaminess in here as well. And the rye, lovely. This is a malt masterpiece. The finish comes up with a nice slight bitterness to balance things out without taking away from the malt display that puts malt displays to shame. A sweet sugary residue resides on the lips long after each sip. The aftertaste reeks of whiskey and vanilla oak.

The Mouthfeel is a gem on this one. Sooo creamy without being too thick. Carbonation is dead on. I cant imagine a better mouthfeel for this style of strong ale.

Drinkability I was expecting to be ugly after the whiskey bomb on the nose, but it is actually quite impressive for the abv.

Overall this is DEFENITELY something I will trade for again. A great rye beer that showcases its malt profile very very well. Ithaca is really cranking out some impressive stuff in their excelsior! line. These beers, Old Habit included, have really put Ithaca on the map. They ought to be proud of themselves. Excited to try the next one. Great beer. Now, Im off to beermail Lum...

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Photo of Sammy
4.35/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

June 2007 production. Wonderful integrated concoction of bourbon, rye,chocolate,almonds, almond milk, hazlenut, hops. This all comes through nicely in the smell and the taste. Well balanced. Cola dark black with ruby highlights, rich full mouthfeel, exceptional.

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Photo of prototypic
4/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle courtesy of BeerTruth. Thanks, Adam!

Batch: E!007

Appearance: It pours a dark, nut brown color. There's some red around the edges as light comes through. The head on this one is gargantuan. Easily three fingers deep. It's a mocha tan color and very, very stubborn. It will easily outlast the beer. Thick sheets of lace line the glass.

Smell: The nose is malty and sweet up front. Smells like a fine mix of roasted and chocolate malts. There is a bit of spicy aroma along with a rye/grainy smell, but neither come through very strong. The nose could actually use a little work in the strength department. It smells pretty good, but it takes some patience to pull much out of it. Hops are noteable on the tail and give it a slight bit of a piney smell. Alcohol is not noted.

Taste: It improves here, but not quite so much to award a higher score. Why can't we score tenths of points again? It is spicy and has a distinct rye/grainy flavor. It comes through much stronger here and permeates the flavor. It is malty and sweet. It tastes like a mix of roasted and light chocolate malts, but I'm less certain of that here. They're not quite as identifiable in taste. It is more hoppy and bitter than I expected, but it works extremely well and is a very pleasant surprise. Alcohol is mildly noticeable. Very nice job on that front.

Mouthfee/Drinkability: It's full bodied and has a nice smooth feel. Carbonation is relatively light which helps in that regard. It's not quite creamy, but it's nice and smooth. Drinkability is good. The abv is right on point and makes it easily approachable. That being said, one 750 is more than enough for me.

Ithaca did a nice job with this release. I'm impressed with it. Frankly, the nose could use a little beefing up, but I don't think I'd change much more than that. It's a very good Rye release. I just can't say that I'm a huge fan of rye beers. But, this is a good one that's more than worth checking out.

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Photo of mikey711
3.07/5  rDev -21.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Batch E!017

A: Murky deep brown, almost light mud, with way too much head as it was a bit of a gusher. Also the head held too well. The lacing was great

S: Heavy vanilla wood notes, some rye spice, brown sugar. Also some cherry and raspberry notes

T: Very earthy tasting. at times i felt like i was chewing on damop wood. The whiskey does provide a bit of smokiness and there is a pronounce chocolate note, but this one just seemed like a bit of a mess to me. Maybe I just wasnt in the mood for this type of beer but it really turned me off a bit

M: Very boozy but I think with some cellaring this will drastically improve

D: From the first sip I was not enjoying it. I did get more into as the night progressed but it is definitely a bit green

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Photo of nickd717
1.35/5  rDev -65.5%
look: 1.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

750ml bottle thanks to Crack1Open.

Major gusher!!! Hazy weird reddish-brown appearance with a massive fizzy tan head. Lost half the beer into the sink (and most of the other half later when I drainpoured it).

Bretty, funky, oaky, aroma with slight dark fruit, infection evident.

Tart bretty flavor with an odd acrid finish. Some plum and fig notes. Not good.

Medium-bodied with carbonation WAY too high.

This is terrible. Ithaca needs to do something about this infection problem. This is the third or fourth DIFFERENT beer I've had from them recently that has been infected. Brute yeast doesn't work so well on beers other than Brute it seems.

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Photo of Kegatron
3.75/5  rDev -4.1%

Photo of davod23
1.43/5  rDev -63.4%
look: 2 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1

Well, that's a downer.

Bottle opens and begins a slow gush. Damn it. I quickly pour it into my Bruery tulip. It's a reddish brown color, pour is pretty thin. The clarity is okay, big tannish head.

Aroma is off, as expected from the gush. It's not terribly pungent, but what there is indicates infection. Dirt, minerals, a vague sour cherry. It smells a bit funky as well, a bit of dryer sheet.

Taste is bad. It's not the worst thing I've ever had, but it's close. Obviously nowhere near the mark. Sour cherry, rotten flowers.

Thin mouthfeel, long unpleasant finish.

Drainpoured it after 2oz. Brewing fail.

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Photo of Gmann
4.31/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Out of a 750ml capped and foiled bottle. Pours a chestnut brown color with an outrageous pillowy tan head that just won't dissipate. It has been sitting for several minutes and there is barely any reduction in the head. Needless to say it is leaving crazy chunk lacing all over the glass. The aroma has a big oak sourness with hints of whiskey and vanilla. The taste is of oak and vanilla. The oaky sourness is not as big in the taste and the whiskey is noticable but not overpowering. There is also some red wine, caramel, chocolate and a lightly roasted malt flavors. The rye takes a distant backseat to the bolder oak and whiskey but does add a light spicy sour characteristic. Moderate body with fairly soft carbonation, the feel is a bit sticky and at times the abv can seem hot. The malt body does a good job supporting the strong flavors of this brew and helps keep everything in check. This is a very tastey barrel ages brew. The oak and whiskey do not blast you over your head but work very well with its supporting cast.

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Photo of GRG1313
3.5/5  rDev -10.5%

Photo of akorsak
4/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A 750 mL bottle of Batch E!007 purchased at Sam the Beer Man in Binghamton. This is review #1500.

A: The beer is deep brown, looking remarkably like a loaf of rye bread. Brighter orange highlights are evident throughout the ale. A thick head resulted on the first pour and a dense patch of lace has resulted.

S: Soft bourbon notes, vanilla, pepper and corn, dominate the nose. Soft and dominate don't contradict themselves, I promise. Bready, dark rye does manage to sneak past the bourbon.

T: The nose intimates an intense bourbon flavor but the taste is slow to deliver, very slow. Bready rye with mere hints of bourbon greeted me, not the full-on whiskey flavor that i was expecting. The back-end of the sip brings out the full sweet bourbon flavors. In between, the rye and bourbon battle, Mortal Kombat-style, for domination and the results are interesting. The ale is bready and chewy but sweet with vanilla and pepper. Chocolate flavors appear throughout as well. The complexity of the rye-bourbon interactions is unusual and I think it works. The biggest problem I see is that the ale leaves a rather flat taste that seems to be weak bourbon (perhaps the ale needed more aging in the barrel?).

M: The mouthfeel is different. The ale lacks significant carbonation, so the flavors are inclined to linger too long on the palate. Rye grains and bourbon seem to have a testy relationship; they are not complimentary at times.

D: The ale is too big and complex to pound. I am happy to watch some college football and sip on this one for a few hours.

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Photo of Magery
4/5  rDev +2.3%

Photo of philbe311
3.93/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Batch E!017 - I've been eager to try this one for a while...

A - A wee bit of a gusher which I wasn't expecting... A mammoth billowing medium tan head that is both foamy and slightly rocky displays stellar retention... A medium to dark brown color that allows some light to leak in... Some mild ruby highlights... Murky... Some small slow paced carbonation bubbles can be seen rising if one concentrates, but could be missed with a quick glance... Loads upon loads of lacing clings to the glass...

S - As one The whiskey barrel again is undeniable, but it's quite pleasant and not overpowering... As one would should expect, the rye is also at the forefront... It's a very spicy rye... Slightly funky... Perhaps some hints of cherry and vanilla are noted as well...

T - The whiskey flavors picked up through the barrel again are paramount and dominate the palette... Any other flavors are muddled and hidden behind the whiskey... It's hard to tell, but there seems to be an interesting interplay between the rye and some sweet malts deep down beneath the surface...

M - Medium bodied... Prickly carbonation... Chewy... An astringent alcohol dryness permeates... Sticky...

D - The gushing at open was a severe distraction... Barrel aging should compliment and not dominate a beer... In terms of Old Habit and the aroma, that's the case, however in terms of the palette the rest of the flavors get lost amidst the whiskey flavors which is another distraction... All that being said, it's still a solid offering... Perhaps my expectations were slightly unrealistic, but I had hoped for an epic offering and only got a very good one...

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Photo of Kayaker
4/5  rDev +2.3%

Photo of hoppymcgee
4/5  rDev +2.3%

Photo of JohnGalt1
4.2/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I've had this a few times over the last couple of years, but the most recent bottle and the review comes from Ditmier... Eric is a beer buddy's homeboy. Enjoyed immensely at a tasting a while back and reviewed from notes.

Lite tan head and a lightly hazed deep amber.. great lacing.

I catch the barrel aging out of the gate.. not over done but well presented and adds a great complexity immediately.. malty with some spice.. touches of chocolate.

Spiciness abounds in the palate... lite cherry and caramel.. nice vanilla mid palate .. again some chocolate that reminds me of a boozy cordial without all the sweetness... Great medium body with a lighter than expected carbonation... very smooth I like the way it circulates around the palate.

This is an excellent brew that I need to remember to try and trade for again.. Fantastically complex and ramps up the definition of "rye beer" for sure... Rye Wine maybe??!!


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Photo of logicalparadox
3/5  rDev -23.3%

Photo of mikesgroove
4/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

brown with a huge tan head on top. Slow receding left tons of lacing down the sides of the glass and really gave it a very nice and very complete look. Aroma is huge, lots of spice at first, caramel, molasses, hints of brown sugar and earth, deep hops. Warming brings out some touches of dark fig like fruit notes but nothing like that warm rye touch that really adds to it. As I take the first sip a really wave of caramel and light peppery rye hit the tongue. Light notes of chocolate that come over it wave after wave. Really quite complex and I have to admit not at all what I was expecting. Still very well done.

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Old Habit from Ithaca Beer Company
Beer rating: 3.91 out of 5 with 164 ratings